Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating Blog: Archive for June, 2014

Principles Behind Geothermal Cooling

Friday, June 27th, 2014

The power to cool your home can come from right beneath your feet: the heat of the earth provides a renewable, efficient, and clean source of energy that you can harness with a geothermal heat pump. Like any heat pump, a geothermal model can provide you with both heating and cooling, whatever your needs during the year.

If you would like to take advantage of the many benefits of a geothermal heat pump, contact our staff today to get started.

At Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating, we offer comprehensive service for installation, repair, and maintenance when it comes to geothermal cooling in San Antonio, TX.

How geothermal cooling works

The basic principle behind cooling with a geothermal heat pump is the same as that of a regular (or “air-source”) heat pump. The heat pump circulates refrigerant through the system, absorbing heat in one location, and then releasing it in another. When in cooling mode, the heat pump’s refrigerant absorbs heat from the inside of a house, and then removes it from the house to release it. Heating mode reverses the direction, and the refrigerant releases the heat into the house. This process is called heat exchange.

But where the geothermal system differs is that it uses a different medium for heat exchange than a standard heat pump. Instead of using the air for both absorption and release of heat, a geothermal heat pump uses the earth for half of the process, which is why geothermal systems are sometimes called “ground-source” heat pumps.

The outside section of a geothermal heat pump isn’t an outdoor coil, but a set of plastic loops buried at least 10 feet into the ground. The refrigerant in the system (water or a solution of water and anti-freeze) runs through these coils to absorb or release heat. In heating mode, the loops draw heat from the ground, and in cooling they deposit heat into the ground.

Because the earth 10 feet below the surface maintains a steady temperature of approximately 55°F, the heat pump always has a reliable source for the exchange. No matter how hot it is outside, the system has a cooler location to release the heat removed to cool the indoors. No matter how cold it is outside, the system has a warmer location to draw heat to warm the indoors. This makes geothermal systems both reliable and energy efficient.

Call today to find out more

If there’s one major drawback to geothermal cooling and heating, it’s that not every property is suitable for it. You need to have sufficient space for the loops and deep enough soil. Call Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating today and talk to our professionals with experience installing geothermal cooling in San Antonio, TX. They can answer your questions and set up an appointment to find out if a geothermal heat pump is your best option for cooling and heating your home.

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Common Heat Pump Repair Issues

Friday, June 20th, 2014

We think heat pumps are a great option for home comfort in San Antonio. The combination of powerful air conditioning and efficient heating make them ideal to handle our heavy summers and mild winters.

But just like any complex machine, a heat pump can encounter operating problems that require trained specialists to repair. Please do not attempt to open up either the indoor or the outdoor cabinet of your heat pump and fiddle with the components inside when the system starts to show signs of a malfunction. You may potentially make the repair issue worse.

Start off right and call in experienced technicians: Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating is ready 24-hours a day to restore your heat pump’s operation.

Here are 3 common repair issues we often see in heat pumps

  • Broken reversing valve – The reversing valve is the essential component that separates a heat pump from an air conditioner. The valve changes the direction that refrigerant flows through the system, and this switches the heat pump from cooling to heating mode. A reversing valve can break down or lose its connection to the electrical system that sends the charge that changes it from “excited” and “relaxed” state, and this will result in a heat pump stuck in one mode or the other. In most cases, technicians will replace the failed reversing valve.
  • Loss of the refrigerant – Refrigerant, sometimes known as Freon, is the chemical necessary for the heat pump to carry out heat exchange. Each heat pump has a set “charge” (level) for its refrigerant, and the level will only drop if leaks occur in the system. Leaking refrigerant will lower the heat pump’s ability to heat or cool (both will be affected) and trigger ice developing over the indoor and outdoor coils. Technicians will recharge the refrigerant and take care of defrosting the coils.
  • Hard-starting – The term “hard starting” refers to when the heat pump’s compressor struggles to turn on often stuttering, and then frequently shutting off early. This is usually an issue with the electrical system, such as failing capacitors, or it could come from mechanical failure in the motors. Technicians can install a “hard start kit” to overcome electrical deficiencies, or they can replace the malfunctioning motors. The problem must be addressed quickly, otherwise it could cause serious damage to the compressor, one of the most expensive parts of a heat pump to repair.

Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating has more than 25 years of experience with helping people in San Antonio, TX with heat pump repair and work for air conditioners, heaters, and other comfort systems. You can depend on our quality work to handle any issues you may encounter with your heat pump. Contact us to set up an appointment today.

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When Is Duct Replacement Necessary?

Friday, June 13th, 2014

The ducts in your walls and ceilings are vital for distributing conditioned air throughout your home. To do this efficiently without loss of air pressure or the intrusion of dirt and dust from closed-off spaces of your home, the ducts must remain airtight and in good condition. Occasional duct sealing will take care of leaks along the ventilation shafts. Sometimes, however, you will need to have aging or poorly installed ducts replaced with new ones.

Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating wants to make sure that you have the strongest ductwork possible to protect your HVAC system and your indoor air quality. When you need more than repairs and sealing for your ventilation system, call us for duct replacement in Canyon Lake, TX. We will bring our 25 years of experience to the job and get it done right the first time.

How you can tell you need duct replacement

It’s easy to detect when you need to replace most appliances in a home, because they sit in plain sight. But it is different with ductwork, most of which remains hidden behind the walls of your home. To tell when you need repairs or replacements for you ductwork, you have to watch for other warning signs.

The biggest tip you’ll receive that you have severely damaged ducts that require replacement is when your utility bills take a sudden upward leap. A small leak in the ducts will cause a small jump: extreme damage will make a noticeable difference. Although there are other possibilities for such spikes in HVAC costs, you will still need to call in experts to investigate and find a solution.

Uneven cooling/heating is another way to tell that you have ductwork damage. In this case, the way the cool or warm air is distributed will help inform you where the damaged ducts might be. If a particular room in your home is the wrong temperature when the HVAC system is on, check on the airflow coming from the room vent. If there is no airflow, or if it is extremely low, then you have a major duct issue that needs repair or replacement work done on it immediately.

The right professionals will be able to determine if repairs will do the job, or if you should consider replacement. Often, replacement is necessary to overcome poor installation work; if you moved into an older home, it may have received a bad amateur or DIY job on its ventilation. Replacement may also be necessary for older metal ducts that have developed corrosion.

For the necessary work for to protect your ventilation system’s integrity, whether duct repair or duct replacement in Canyon Lake, TX, call Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating today.

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How Insulation Helps Your Air Conditioning System

Friday, June 13th, 2014

Insulation. When you hear this word, do you automatically think of keeping warm? Most people do. Insulation is the warm coat wrapped around you in winter to protect you from the cold. Insulation is the material around wires to keep them from spreading heat where it can cause damage. Insulation is the fluffy stuff in your attic and walls that make sure your house stays warm during chilly weather.

But insulation is protection from both the cold and the heat. With proper insulation in Boerne, TX, you will help your air conditioner perform a better and more energy-efficient job through a hot summer. We’ll explain how this works and how Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating can help you with your home’s insulation needs. Contact us to set an appointment or to request an estimate.

Insulation and keeping cool in the summer

Here’s what insulation actually does: it prevents or restricts the movement of heat. It is a thermal barrier that works both directions. Heat attempts to move from an area of higher concentration to a cooler region, and insulation blocks this movement. During the winter, the insulation in a house traps the heat inside that comes from the heating system and makes it easier to stay warm—the same way that a coat traps your body heat around you and keeps you from feeling cold.

During the summer, the process works the opposite: the insulation in your home prevents the exterior heat from coming through the walls and unnecessarily raising the temperature. The attic is a place where this is especially important. Because the radiant heat from the sun on the roof will elevate the attic temperatures to extremes (130°F is not uncommon), the attic will turn into a source of warmth that will seep down into a home and raise the temperature by 10°F or more. But thick insulation in the attic floor will keep the attic heat restricted there.

With less heat entering your home, your air conditioning system will need to run less. You’ll have lower electrical bills and less strain placed on the AC. In the long run, the air conditioner will experience fewer repair needs and last longer before needing a replacement.

Here’s how we can help

Our insulation experts at Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating can check your home’s air sealing to find places where weak or absent insulation is permitting in extra heat. We will then find the best method to seal up these leaks so you have an energy-efficient home that’s much easier to keep cool.

You can trust your insulation in Boerne, TX to our work. Using spray foam insulation, blown-in insulation, and radiant barriers in the roof, we can create a create heat seal for your home.

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Do Heat Pumps Have Special Maintenance Needs?

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Heat pumps are very similar to air conditioning systems: they use an identical system of circulating refrigerant between two sets of coils to carry out heat exchange (moving heat from one location to another) and contain a similar set of components in an almost copycat configuration. They both use indoor and outdoor cabinets, with the compressor housed in the outdoor cabinet, and two sets of fans used to move air across the coils. The indoor blower fans send conditioned air into the ductwork.

Because of their similarities, they also share similar maintenance needs that a technician will take care of when he or she arrives for the annual tune-up and inspection. The technician will look over the electrical system, the capacitors, the motors, the compressor, the thermostat… none of this is different from one system to the other.

But heat pumps do have some specific needs, which are listed below. Make sure that when you schedule heat pump maintenance in Selma, TX, you call the experienced team at Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating.

The special maintenance needs of a heat pump

  • The reversing valve: The component that makes the difference between a heat pump and a standard air conditioner is the valve the controls the flow of refrigerant. The reversing valve is located in the outdoor unit connected to the compressor. As refrigerant exits from the compressor, the reversing valve guides the direction it will go, and subsequently, whether the system will run in heating or cooling mode. Part of maintenance is to see that this crucial valve is operating correctly and doesn’t need replacement.
  • The drip pans—both of them: Air conditioners have a condensate pan to catch moisture that drips down from the evaporator coil, where a drain and pump removes it. Because a heat pump can swap the role of the two coils, both the indoor and outdoor unit perform evaporation and therefore there are two sets of condensate pans to check and clean at each maintenance visit.
  • The thermostat: The thermostat for a heat pump must go an extra level of control because it activates the reversing valve as well. If the thermostat is miscalibrated or loses its connection to the reversing valve, the heat pump will become stuck in one mode or the other.

Have you had your heat pump maintenance yet?

All home comfort systems require annual maintenance to make sure they work correctly, efficiently, and without impending repair needs. The special balance needed for a heat pump to work as both heater and AC means they must have technicians familiar with their workings to perform the maintenance. You’ll find the experienced people for the job at Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating.

We have worked on heat pump maintenance in Selma, TX for over 25 years, and our preventive maintenance agreement will take care of all your needs for tune-ups and inspections.

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